‘Star Wars’ Just Solved a Long Running ‘Empire Strikes Back’ Mystery

Star Wars has continued to address past mysteries of the Skywalker Saga that fans have debated over for decades.

An epic new comic book series, War of the Bounty Hunters, is set after the events of The Empire Strikes Back and centers on what happened to Boba Fett as he was trying to deliver a carbonite-frozen Han Solo to Jabba the Hutt.

The series features crossovers from the current ongoing Star Wars comic series including the Darth Vader series, which had seen Palpatine test his apprentice in a never-before-seen battle of wills that culminated on Exegol.

Following the events of the ‘Into the Fire’ arc, the latest issue of Star Wars: Darth Vader acts as a prequel to the War of the Bounty Hunters series – and it also manages to solve a long-running mystery from The Empire Strikes Back in the process.

The issue starts with Vader being taken back to Coruscant to be fully restored after Palpatine is confident he’s been tested enough. “He will find his true enemy soon enough,” he explains (although Palpatine probably doesn’t expect it to eventually be him).

Right now, it appears Vader’s “true enemy” is his son Luke Skywalker after Luke refused to join him in The Empire Strikes Back: “You could have ruled the galaxy by my side. But despite all your promise, you’re weak. You have never done anything without your friends.”

While the Darth Vader series has been set after The Empire Strikes Back, this issue mostly revisits events leading up to, and including, the iconic sequel. We get a flashback to the Battle of Yavin and the Millennium Falcon’s pivotal role in the battle before Luke destroyed the Death Star.

What we didn’t know was that after this defeat, Vader had actually tracked the Falcon to Corellia and came face-to-face with Han Solo and Chewbacca. The duo obviously fled at the sight of him and successfully hid in a repair shipyard.

It’s these previously-unseen events that lead Vader to set the group of bounty hunters, including Boba Fett, after the Millennium Falcon in The Empire Strikes Back.

As we know, Vader did eventually catch up with Han and co in Cloud City, luring Luke there and resulting in their epic clash. But there was always one moment in the events of Cloud City that stood out for Star Wars fans.

As Han is about to be frozen in carbonite, Chewbacca reacts furiously (as you’d expect) and Boba Fett is about to shoot him, but Vader stops him. We know that Vader wanted “no disintegrations”, but since he’d already caught up with them, surely he wouldn’t be that bothered about the Wookiee’s death?

It turns out that it was all part of Vader’s strategy to make Luke think that they were surviving for so long as a result of their luck and the strong bond between the rebels.

“Your friends. You think they saved you. You think you saved them. Good… keep on believing it… believe that you and your friends have survived this long through strength or fortune instead of my design,” Vader muses as we see the Chewbacca scene play out.

We imagine that, in different circumstances, this would eventually have led to some grandstanding speech by Vader in Return of the Jedi about how he was orchestrating everything behind the scenes, a bit like Palpatine’s return in The Rise of Skywalker.

But as we all know, Vader had a change of heart and was then probably pretty happy with how he’d helped Luke and his friends survive all these years.

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